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Williams v. Hanlon

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 15, 2019

LAMAR A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff
v.
MICHAEL C. HANLON, Assistant United States Attorney, ROBERT K. HUR, U.S. Attorney for District of Maryland, DAVID LUTZ, Assistant U.S. Marshal, STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, U.S. Magistrate Judge, J. MARK COULSON, U.S. Magistrate Judge, KENNETH M. LANGSTON, Senior U.S. Probation Officer, HELEN DONOVAN, Social Worker, LAUREN M. ELFNER, Assistant United States Attorney, Individual Capacity & Official Capacity, BRYAN K. FORMAN, Individual Capacity & Official Capacity, [1] REBECCA S. TALBOTT, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Individual Capacity & Official Capacity, BEVERLY GRIFFITH, Attorney Advisor, Individual Capacity & Official Capacity, JAMES K. BREDAR, Chief Judge, United States District Court of Maryland, Individual Capacity & Official Capacity, ROGER L. GREGORY, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Individual Capacity & Official Capacity, PATRICIA CONNOR, Clerk, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Individual Capacity and Official Capacity, STEPHANIE VASSAR, Clerk, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Individual Capacity & Official Capacity, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge.

         Lamar Williams, a Maryland resident, has filed a 42-page Complaint seeking money damages for injuries sustained as a result of his July 3, 2018 arrest and subsequent conviction for criminal contempt of court in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401.[2] Accompanying the Complaint is Williams' Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 9), which shall be granted.

         This case arises from and is related to the cases of Williams v. Baltimore County, Civil Action No. GLR-17-66 and United States v. Williams, Criminal No. TDC-18-413. The civil action seeking damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act[3] arose after Williams was terminated from employment with Baltimore County. During those proceedings Williams was ordered not to contact the chambers of the presiding judge, the Honorable James Bredar, via email or telephone and to only communicate in writing via documents filed with the Clerk. Dissatisfied with the conduct of those proceedings, Williams filed complaints against Judge Bredar with the Judicial Council of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

         Williams subsequently violated the court order barring him from contacting chambers and the matter was referred to the United States Marshal for investigation. Ultimately, Williams was charged with one count of criminal contempt in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401 and, after a bench trial, was convicted and sentenced to 47 days' confinement. Williams' appeal of that conviction remains pending. See Criminal No. TDC-18-413.

         Aggrieved by the actions of the court, Williams filed this case which, for reasons that follow, may not proceed.

         Background

         Williams brings his action against Michael C. Hanlon, Robert K. Hur, Brian K. Forman, and Lauren Elmer, United States Attorneys involved in the prosecution of his criminal case in this District; David Lutz, the Assistant U.S. Marshal involved in his arrest; United States Magistrate Judges Stephanie A. Gallagher and J. Mark Coulson, who held hearings during Williams's criminal proceedings; Kenneth M. Langston and Helen Donovan, employees of the United States Pretrial and Probation Office who participated in Williams's criminal proceedings; Rebecca S. Talbott, an Assistant Federal Public Defender who represented Williams; Beverly Griffith, a federal court employee who testified at Williams's criminal proceedings; and the Honorable James K. Bredar, the Chief Judge of this District who presided over Williams' civil case. Additionally, he sues the Honorable Robert L. Gregory, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Patricia Connor, Clerk of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and her employee, Stephanie Vassar, for their actions in adjudicating and processing Williams's judicial complaint against Judge Bredar.[4]

         The precise nature of Williams' Complaint is unclear. He cites numerous Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that neither confer a jurisdictional basis for this action nor suggest a nature of suit.[5] He also cites statutory provisions, including 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364(concerning complaints against judges and judicial discipline); "Chapter 3 § 320, Article I, 3 (Defmitions)(h)(D), (h)(E) & (h)(G)"; 42 USC § 12203 (prohibition against retaliation and coercion); 28 U.S.C. § 4101 (defining defamation), and the 7th Amendment (concerning the right to a civil jury trial), 14th Amendment (concerning due process and equal protection); various civil rights statutes, including 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (equal rights), § 1983 (civil action for deprivation of rights), and § 1985 (conspiracy to interfere with civil rights); 18 U.S.C. §§ 1621 (perjury generally); § 1623 (false declarations before grand jury or court); and 28 U.S.C. § 455 (disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge); the Privacy Act of 1974, 38 U.S.C. § 7332 (confidentiality of certain Veterans' medical records) and 31 C.F.R. 501.733 (concerning evidence regarding confidential information, protective orders for regulating money and foreign assets control within the Department of the Treasury). Maryland rules concerning disclosure of records as well as the American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility are also referenced. Williams, however, fails to explain how Defendants' conduct is alleged to violate these codifications and rules which, in any event, either fail to provide a basis creating a private cause of action or are clearly inapplicable to Williams' case.

         Standard of Review

         Williams filed this Complaint in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in this Court without prepaying the filing fee. To guard against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires dismissal of any claim that is frivolous or malicious or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § l9l5(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii).[6] A Complaint that is legally frivolous may also be dismissed at its inception for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P 12 (b)(1). See Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477 (6th Cir. 1999); O'Connor v. United States, 159 F.R.D. 22 (D. Md. 1994); see also Crowley Cutlery Co. v. United States, 849 F.2d 273, 277 (7th Cir. 1988) (federal district judge has authority to dismiss a frivolous suit on his own initiative).

         This Court is mindful, however, of its obligation to liberally construe self-represented pleadings, such as the instant Complaint, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), and in so doing assumes the factual allegations are true. Id. at 93, citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Nonetheless, liberal construction does not mean that this Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (stating a district court may not "conjure up questions never squarely presented"). In making this determination, "[t]he district court need not look beyond the complaint's allegations" but "must hold the pro se complaint to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read the complaint liberally." White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-723 (4th Cir. 1989).

         With these standards in mind, the Court finds that Williams has failed to articulate allegations which may be suitably addressed by this Court or to which the named Defendants This authority exists because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a legally frivolous claim, thereby making dismissal prior to service permissible. See Ricketts v. Midwest Nat'l Bank, 874 F.2d 1177, 1181-83 (7th Cir. 1989); Franklin v. Or. State Welfare Div., 662 F.2d 1337, 1342-43 (9th Cir. 1981); see also Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477 (6th Cir. 1999); O'Connor v. United States, 159 F.R.D. 22 (D. Md. 1994); Crowley Cutlery Co. v. United States, 849 F.2d 273, 277 (7th Cir. 1988) (federal district judge has authority to dismiss a frivolous suit on his own initiative). should be required to respond.[7]

         Analysis

         A. ...


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